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(To view a pictures of the Kids a Cookin' recipes, go to

Released: March 16, 2006

Briefly . . .

This week's news briefs . . .
1) Reduce Risks From Deli Meats, Soft Cheeses
2) To Feed or Not to Feed Flowering Perennials
3) Chickens and Old Paint Not a Good Mix
4) Green Peas Ready to Harvest by June
5) Kids a Cookin’ - Lemon Pepper Chicken and Veggies
6) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit




1) Reduce Risks From Deli Meats, Soft Cheeses

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Heating deli meats or cold cuts can reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes – a foodborne illness that may take up to three weeks to make itself apparent, said Fadi Aramouni with the Food Science Institute at Kansas State University.

"Among foodborne illnesses, Listeria has the highest rate of hospitalization and death. It is particularly dangerous for children, immunocompromised people, the elderly and pregnant woman. It can cause miscarriage," he said.

Listeria monocytogenes can actually grow in a cold environment, such as a meat case or refrigerator. That makes deli meats, cold cuts and soft cheeses vulnerable," said Aramouni, who is a K-State Research and Extension food scientist.

He recommends consumers reduce risks from such foods by buying only what they can reasonably use in a day or two and then wrapping the foods well before refrigerating, to prevent cross-contamination. Heating ready-to-eat meats before eating – using a microwave or grill or cooking them in boiling water – also helps make these products safer.

Scientists consider deli meats, cold cuts and soft cheeses the primary hosts for Listeria monocytogenes. But, the bacterium sometimes grows in salads, too. It could, for example, be traced to the cabbage in coleslaw.

So, Aramouni also recommends washing raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.

More information on food safety and health is available at local K-State Research and Extension offices and on Kansas Extension’s food safety Web site:     





2) To Feed or Not to Feed Flowering Perennials

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The exceptions include such blooming beauties as the astilbe, chrysanthemum, delphinium, lupine and summer phlox.

"They tend to need more fertilizer than the average flowering perennial. I’d recommend feeding them every year," said Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

In general, however, most garden perennials aren’t heavy feeders. They appreciate an annual feeding while getting established. But, they can go longer between meals after that.

"They’ll tell you when they’re starting to get into trouble," Upham said. "They’ll get weaker, and their foliage will become a lighter green or even yellowish."

The time to feed flowering perennials is in spring, just as their new growth begins, he said.

The kind of fertilizer to use depends on the plant and the soil where it’s growing.

"The only sure way to know is by learning about the kinds of plants you’re growing and by getting a soil test every three to five years," Upham said. "For example, Kansas soils tend to be fairly alkaline. If that’s true where you live, your soil’s pH could be a problem for such acid-loving plants as lupines, Oriental lilies, ferns and heathers.

"Many Kansas soils naturally have enough potassium and potash, too. If a soil test indicates that’s so where you garden, you’ll know using a balanced garden fertilizer could be a bad idea."

Any county K-State Research and Extension office can help gardeners get their soil tested, he said.

For those without soil test results, Upham suggests babying acid-loving plants: First, incorporate lots of peat moss into the planting bed. Then, provide any needed feedings in the form of an acidic fertilizer.

"Fortunately, most perennials prefer a slightly alkaline soil. So, all Kansans need to do is apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer," he said. "The easiest kind to find is often a lawn fertilizer. The first number on a lawn fertilizer bag is always much larger than the other two, indicating the bag’s mix is mostly nitrogen."


3) Chickens and Old Paint Not a Good Mix

MANHATTAN, Kan. – In the course of his work as a poultry specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension, Scott Beyer fields a lot of questions on everything from bird flu to the following, which could be a down-home concern right now:

Question: I scraped some old paint off a garage and noticed that my hens were scratching in the area. If this paint contained lead, could my hens have eaten some chips and deposited lead in their eggs?

Beyer: Yes. Since birds often are attracted to shiny objects, they may have actually picked out the paint chips. And, studies have found hens that have consumed lead-based paint will lay eggs with high levels of lead. Almost all of the lead will be in the yolk.

Beyer added, "Lead can be a serious threat to mental development in children. If you have old barns or houses with peeling paint, either test the paint for lead or keep your chickens away from it.

"Kansas has weak laws when it comes to lead-paint testing, so you need to be proactive and have it tested if you want to be sure."


4) Green Peas Ready to Harvest by June

MANHATTAN, Kan. – For the stalwart few, St. Patrick’s Day signals the time to plant potatoes. But, many gardeners have room for another vegetable that also likes cool soils – plus brings quicker results.

"All three types of peas will mature by early to mid-June, unless you make successive plantings. In that case, you’ll have peas until hot summer weather kills the plants," said Chuck Marr, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

The three types available are:

* Garden peas - which require shelling when fully mature, but include such Kansas favorites as Little Marvel, Green Arrow, Frosty, Knight, Sparkle and Burpeeana.

* Oriental or snow peas - grown for their thin pods and harvested before the peas mature for use in salads and stir fries. K-State recommends the Dwarf Grey Sugar and Mammoth Sugar varieties.

* Sugar snap peas - which have a thick, fleshy pod and are good eating either raw or cooked like green beans – peas, pod and all. Good varieties are Sugar Ann, Sugar Bon and Sugar Snap.

Marr advises reading the fine print when buying pea seed packets. Some small-vined types produce pods on 12- to 15-inch tall vines, while other pea varieties may produce 3- to 4-feet vines.

"If the soil isn’t wet, you can plant peas in Kansas any time from early March to late April," he said. "The seeds will wait and germinate whenever soil temperatures reach 40 degrees."

Pea plants are fairly flimsy. When the vines enlarge and pea pods start to develop, the plants tend to flop over. So, Marr recommends seeding every two plants or two rows of peas about 6 inches apart, so the "couples" can support each other.

"That’s a lot easier and cheaper than trying to construct a plant-size string trellis," he said.


5) Kids a Cookin’ - Lemon Pepper Chicken and Veggies

To give youngsters more confidence in using a slow cooker, this recipe guides them in making chicken with a twist. The nutritious, one-dish meal is from Kansas State University Research and Extension’s Family Nutrition Program. It makes four servings.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 chicken thighs or legs, skin removed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
To obtain a higher resolution photo of this recipe go to:




1. Wash your hands.

2. Lightly coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray.

3. Peel and mince garlic.

4. Wash, peel and slice carrots about 1/2-inch thick.

5. Wash, peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

6. Layer carrots, potatoes, garlic and chicken in slow cooker.

7. Sprinkle ingredients with lemon pepper seasoning; add chicken broth and cover.

8. Cook on low setting 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours.

Helpful Hints:

Get a head start on this meal by preparing the chicken and vegetables the night before and storing them in the refrigerator until time to assemble ingredients. Place the prepared potatoes in a bowl of water

that’s covered tightly with plastic wrap. Store the cut carrots in a covered bowl or plan use baby carrots. Cut the chicken skin loose, pull it off, trim away any fat that’s not attached to the meat, place the meat in a bowl and cover it, too.

You can substitute black pepper for the lemon pepper seasoning, if you like. You also can substitute the chopped garlic in a jar you find in a grocers’ produce section for the freshly chopped garlic in this recipe.

Young cooks often think a clove of garlic is the entire garlic bulb or head – which can lead to STRONG results. Each garlic bulb you buy is made up of many sections, each one of which is a clove. As needed, you pull these cloves off individually, peel away their outer covering and then dice.

Safety Tips:

To promote food safety, use the cutting board to cut washed vegetables first. Use it to the remove skin and fat from the chicken second. Then wash hands, counter tops, cutting board and knife in hot, soapy water.

Before eating, check chicken’s temperature to be sure it’s done. Place the meat thermometer in the thickest portion of the meat (making sure the tip doesn’t stick out the other side). Keep the thermometer in place until the gauge stops moving. Chicken is cooked when its internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.


Per serving: 530 calories, 16 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated), 80 mg cholesterol, 26 grams protein, 73 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams dietary fiber, 260 milligrams sodium.


Kids a Cookin' is an educational program produced by Kansas State University Research and Extension's Family Nutrition Program and funded by USDA's Food Stamp Program through a contract with Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). More information, more recipes and cooking tips, and a link to a Spanish version are available on the Kids a Cookin' Web site:

Source: Kathy Walsten, Family Nutrition Program, K-State Research and Extension


6) Kids a Cookin’ - Tool Kit

  • Slow cooker
  • Cooking spray
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Can opener
  • Meat thermometer


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

For more information:
K-State Research and Extension - News
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, News Coordinator

Contributing writers: 
Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, Nancy Peterson,
Kathleen Ward and Leah Bond

K-State Research and Extension